Many believe the pretzel originated in Germany, but other tales tell differently. Discover the origin of the pretzel & what makes it delicious with Prima Flour
With their twisted shape and unique flavour, pretzels are a recognisable refreshment worldwide but have become increasingly more popular across Australia. From pretzel buns to soft pretzels, cafes, bakeries and supermarkets are beginning to add this salty snack to the offering.
But what exactly makes the savoury pretzel so delicious? We’ve traced back to its beginnings to uncover where the pretzel first originated, how its unique shape came to fruition, what it’s made from and easy solutions on how to incorporate the snack into your cafe, bakery or supermarket’s offering.
Where the pretzel first originated
Similar to the hot cross bun, there are numerous accounts regarding the origin of the pretzel. Legend has it the pretzel was invented by an Italian monk to reward young children for learning their prayers. Some believe the Catholic Church was responsible because of the pretzel’s ingredients. The mixture of flour and water could be consumed during Lent, a time when meat, dairy and eggs were prohibited.
Other sources detail stories that the pretzel was an invention of desperate German bakers held hostage by local high ranking officials. While some believe a 12th-century illustration from France contains the earliest depiction of a pretzel. Whatever the case, pretzels have become a prominent snack in cuisines across the world.
The unique shape of the pretzel
It’s regarded that the shape of the pretzel developed overtime. Some believe they served as a symbol to represent arms crossed in prayer to the Trinity. Others identify the pretzel as a symbol of human sacrifice to Sirona, the Celtic goddess and the rope of dough represents a three-part noose used to hang the sacrifices.
However, the loops in the pretzels may have actually served a practical purpose rather than a religious one. The pretzel has served as an emblem of bakers and their former guilds in southern German areas since at least the 12th century. The pretzel’s unique shape allowed bakers to hang them on sticks, projecting upwards, depicted below.
How pretzels are different from your average loaf of bread
All pretzel dough has the same water to flour ratio, which is three cups of flour for every one cup of water or liquid. Beyond that, slight variations in sugar and other ingredients exist, making each homemade pretzel one-of-a-kind in some way. Pretzels get their unique flavour and texture from malt syrup and a baking soda bath which is used to prep the pretzel before baking.